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Nail biting has been described as the habit of biting one’s fingernails or
toenails during periods of nervousness, stress or boredom.  Even in this less
serious situation, the habit can still cause physical damage and emotional or
social distress.  Since there is no way of predicting which child will develop
accompanying symptoms, it is prudent to eliminate oral habits while the child is
still young. Growing The Nails was developed to respond to parents’ requests
for a kinder method that doesn’t involve negative means to bring about a change
in a child’s behavior.   Growing The Nails does this by providing a child-parent
“team approach.”

Some studies make a distinction between mild forms and severe forms of nail
biting. They take into consideration the intensity, frequency and duration of the
habit.  How powerfully is the nail being held between the teeth and what type of
biting is occurring?  How strongly is the child biting on the nail or sides of the
fingers?  How often is the child indulging in this noxious oral habit?  How long
has the habit been going on?  How long does an average occurrence last?   
The following consequences will vary from person to person, depending upon
the answers to the above questions as well as factors of heredity and

Dental, Periodontal/Gingival Damage, Orthodontic
• Tooth Enamel damage and decay - A long-time habit of nail biting may have
detrimental effects on the enamel of the front teeth, promoting tooth decay in
these areas according to the American Dental Association.  

Temporomandibular Disorder
• TMJ issues - “jaw” problems such as facial pain or clicking or popping in the
area of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).  Although there are many causes of
TMJ pain and disorders and it is sometimes difficult to find the cause(s),
Hughston Sports Medicine Foundation ( reports that
negative oral habits including nail biting are often the causative factor in younger
people with symptoms.  This is because nail biting and other noxious oral
habits put the jaw in an abnormal position that results in wear and tear of the

Germs,  Infections, and Pain
• Paronychia (par a NICK eeya) is the term for inflammation and infection of the
skin around the nail.  Fingernail biting and thumb sucking are common causes
of paronychia in children.  It begins with a painful, red, warm swollen area of
skin around the nail that is often described as “boggy.” This can lead to a pus
formation that will separate the skin and the nail.  
• Germs - There is no doubt whatsoever that nail biting is a common means of
transporting germs directly into the mouth from the fingers themselves and from
the areas under the nails.

Social and Emotional Consequences
Studies have found that interaction in class as well as participation is affected
and limited by sucking behaviors.